Seal of the month

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New finds/Seals not in the CMS

The Seals from the Minoan Site of Chryssi Island...

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New Publications

Hudler, Angelika. 2019. (E)scaping arguments: Gemmae dubitandae and their position in exploring Aegean Bronze Age Archaeology...

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Other News

Workshop: Seals, Stamps, and Administration. Digitizing Bureaucracy – Preserving Heritage

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New publications

Hudler, Angelika. 2019. (E)scaping arguments: Gemmae dubitandae and their position in exploring Aegean Bronze Age Archaeology. In N. Ayash – F. Fritzsche – D. Wolf (eds.), No (e)scape? Towards a Relational Archaeology of Man, Nature, and Thing in the Aegean Bronze Age. Online publication series of the student conference held at the University of Heidelberg, Classical Institute, 23.-25.3.2018. Heidelberg (Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Abstract (by the author): This paper examines, by means of analyzing gemmae dubitandae as a phenomenon of Aegean Bronze Age seal studies, the interrelationship between the artifacts’ attributes and their various readings, as they are proposed by the archaeologists and their publications. That way, encountering the archaeological properties of artifacts through material studies are put into context with the relational dynamics of the scientific community within which they are discussed. By rereading and reevaluating earlier interpretations, or on the occasion of introducing new finds, we participate in modifying this community’s idiosyncrasies. Moreover, exploring new perspectives beyond the traditional archaeological methodologies is proposed as a significant mode to contribute to material studies. Focusing on gemmae dubitandae in and as part of the archaeological discourse, how they were made a part of research over the course of scholarly history and how they are treated presently, is believed to be a representative aspect of exploring the settings of Aegean Bronze Age Archaeology studies.

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Anastasiadou, Maria. 2018. The origin of the different: ‘Gorgos’ and ‘Minotaurs’ of the Aegean Bronze Age. In E. Bridges – D. al-Ayad (eds.), Making Monsters. A Speculative and Classical Anthology. (FutureFire.net): 165-75.

Abstract: This article is part of an anthology of essays, poetry, and short prose evolving around the nature of monsters, how monsters appear and what cultural roles they fulfill within different societies. ‘Origin of the different’ considers the Classical figures of the Medusa and Minotaur and traces them back in history up until the Aegean Bronze Age. It demonstrates that these “monsters” were not unnatural creations but based on narratives handed down over generations and reaching far back in time. Moreover, not only the origin of the later Medusa and Minotaur are considered, but also the origins of monstrosity itself.

Krzyszkowska, Olga. 2018. Materials, motifs and mobility in Minoan glyptic. In Πεπραγμένα IB΄ Διεθνούς Κρητολογικού Συνεδρίου. Proceedings of the 12th International Cretological Congress of Cretan Studies. 21-25 October 2016. Heraklion (Εταιρία Κρητικών Ιστορικών Μελετών): 1–17.

Abstract (from the paper): This paper presents new research which has identified several rare and/or distinctive materials used for Cretan seals from MM II onwards, including banded jasper, red serpentine, fine-grained limestone and calcite; spondylus shell is also discussed. Certain materials (or more accurately the seals made from them) seem to cluster in eastern Crete – encompassing the sites of Mallia, Mochlos, Petras and Palaikastro. Whether this reflects reality or chance remains to be established. In some cases, clusters are linked not only through material but also through motif and style, suggesting the output of individual workshops, which ultimately may help in the localization of production centres…

Van de Moortel, Aleydis. 2017. A new typology of Bronze Age Aegean ships: developments in Aegean shipbuilding in their historical context. In J. Litwin (ed.), Baltic and Beyond. Change and Continuity in Shipbuilding. Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology Gdańsk 2015. Gdańsk (National Maritime Museum): 263-68.

Abstract: This article utilizes recently discovered iconographic sources to revisit existing ship typologies. It proposes a different reading of the orientation of Early Cycladic longships, arguing that bow and stern have been misinterpreted in the past. The author places these observations in a historical and socio-political context and thus offers new insights into Aegean seafaring and shipbuilding technology.

Krzyszkowska, Olga. 2019. Changing perceptions of the past: The role of antique seals in Minoan Crete. In E. Borgna – I. Caloi – F. M.Carinci – R. Laffineur (eds.). Mneme. Past and Memory in the Aegean Bronze Age. Proceedings of the 17th Internationaö Aegean Conference, University of Udine, Department of Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Ca'Foscari University of Venice, Department of Humanities, 17–21 April 2018. Aegaeum 43. Leuven - Liège (Peeters): 487–96.

Abstract: This article tackles the subject of seals that were circulated in later phases than the time of their production. It differentiates between heirlooms and antiques and studies the development of a seal's function over time.

Blakolmer, Fritz. 2018. Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo? Character, symbolism and hierarchy of animals and supernatural creatures in Minoan and Mycenaean iconography. CretAnt 17, 97-183.

Abstract: This article by Fritz Blakolmer presents a study of animal representations in Aegean Bronze Age glyptic that not only examines the iconography of different endemic and foreign animals as well as fantastic creatures, but furthermore establishes iconological relationships. Each group of animals and creatures is treated systematically and put into relation to other groups, making it possible to understand the order of precedence of animals and creatures occurring, for instance, in animal-attack or mastery scenes. The article delves into the cognitive scope of Aegean Bronze Age societies in regard to real and fantastic animals and reveals complex webs of interrelation between animals, hybrids, humans and deities.

Karnava, Artemis. 2018. Seals, Sealings and Seal Impressions from Akrotiri in Thera. CMS Beiheft 10. Heidelberg: CMS Heidelberg – Propylaeum Publishing.

Three articles and a book proving that the Phaistos Disc is a genuine MM III artefact.

Articles:

Anastasiadou, Maria. 2016 (2018). The Phaistos Disc as a genuine Minoan artefact and its place in the stylistic milieu of Crete in the Protopalatial Period. CretAnt 17, 13-57.

Baldacci, Georgia. 2017. Low-relief potters' marks and the Phaistos disc: a note on the 'comb' sign. ASAtene 95, 65-80.

Sanavia, Alessandro. 2017. An overview of the Protopalatial impressed fine ware from Phaistos and some comparisons with the Phaistos Disc. ASAtene 95, 81-103.

Book:

Berres, Thomas. 2017. Der Diskus von Phaistos. Grundlagen seiner Entzifferung. Frankfurt a. M.: Vittorio Klostermann.

Ameri, Marta, Sarah Kielt Costello, Gregg Jamison, and Sarah Jarmer Scott, eds. 2018. Seals and Sealing in the Ancient World: Case Studies from the Near East, Egypt, the Aegean, and South Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The following contributions in this volume deal with Aegean seals and sealings:

Anastasiadou, Maria. An Aegean Seal in Greek Hands? Thoughts on the Perception of Aegean Seals in the Iron Age, pp. 355-67.

Hussein, Angela Murock. The Magic and the Mundane: The Function of 'Talismanic-Class' Stones in Minoan Crete, pp. 387-99.

McGowan, Erin. Cryptic Glyptic: Multivalency in Minoan Glyptic Imagery, pp.368-86. 

Smith, Joanna S. Authenticity, Seal Recarving, and Authority in the Ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean, pp. 95-124.

Weingarten, Judith. Introductory Remarks, Aegean, pp. 327-33.

Younger, John G. Aegean Bronze Age Seal Stones and Finger Rings: Chronology and Functions, pp. 334-54.

 

Becker, Nadine. 2018. Die goldenen Siegelringe der Ägäischen Bronzezeit. Heidelberg: Heidelberg University Press.

Abstract (from the book): The aim of the present work is to present a comprehensive survey of the genre of Minoan and Mycenaean signet rings in its chronological, technical and iconographic development. The study of the material faces...

This is an Open Access publication available online and for download here.

Peperaki, Olympia. 2016. The value of sharing: seal use, food politics, and the negotiation of labor in Early Bronze II mainland Greece.  AJA 120.1, 3–25.

Abstract (AJA): Although the importance of seal use on the Greek mainland during the Early Bronze Age has long been recognized, its significance still remains difficult to grasp. The pervasive priority given to the analysis of social complexity has meant that seal use is addressed as part of an early administrative apparatus employed to control the distribution of goods. The failure of the material to meet the expectations raised by this interpretation is often ignored and has yet to spur a reconsideration of the theoretical grounds on which analysis of seal use was built. Highlighting that such difficulties are the result of particular demands placed on this material, demands that are shaped, in turn, by untested assumptions about the function of the sealings, this article proposes the significance of seal use as a value-producing and transformative material practice. In this framework, it brings forward and discusses the employment of Early Bronze Age II (Early Helladic II) sealings in the organization of food practices as sustaining the circulation of agricultural labor. This reorientation is consonant with a more general shift from seeking to identify predetermined social formations with their concomitant modes of material management to placing strategies of goods reallocation within a continuous, and significantly open-ended, process of social association.

Ulanowska, Agata. 2017. Textile technology and Minoan glyptic: representations of loom weights on Middle Minoan prismatic seals. In K. Żebrowska –  A. Ulanowska – K. Lewartowski  (eds.), Sympozjum Egejskie. Papers in Aegean Archaeology 1. Warsaw:  Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw,  57–66.

Abstract (by A. Ulanowska, from the paper): The paper discusses the iconography of Middle Minoan three-sided soft prismatic seals in relation to the technology of textile production. Specifically, it investigates how textile tools, such as loom weights, were transformed into pictorial motifs in glyptic. The choice of possibly or potentially depicted implements is further examined with relation to the chaîne opératoire of textile technology and iconography of textile production in various arts. In addition, a few methodological assumptions are put forward in order to identify textile implements in small-scale representations in glyptic, and a hypothesis concerning the possible conceptual meaning of such depictions is suggested.

Rethemiotakis, Giorgos. 2016–17. The >Divine Couple< ring from Poros and the origins of the Minoan calendar. AM 131–32, 2016–17 (2017), 1–29.

From the abstract: The Minoan gold ring presented here was found in a large rock-cut tomb at Poros, Heraklion and dates to the LM IB period. The subject of the depiction, the >divine couple< is also known from other religious representations, specifically on rings in the form of the >Sacred Conversation<. Altogether novel in Minoan iconography, however, is the rendering of a group of five celestial ...

Stocker, Sharon R. – Jack L. Davis. 2017. The Combat Agate from the grave of the Griffin Warrior at Pylos. Hesperia 86, 583–605.

From the abstract: The Pylos Combat Agate, in our view a Cretan work of Late Minoan I, may be the finest example of glyptic art yet discovered in a Minoan or Mycenaean context. It was found in 2015 in the grave of the so-called Griffin Warrior at Pylos ...

Krzyszkowska, Olga. 2017. Further seals from the cemetery at Petras. In: Metaxia Tsipopoulou (ed.),  Petras, Siteia, The Pre- and Proto-palatial cemetery in context. Acts of a two-day conference held at the Danish Institute at Athens, 14-15 February 2015. Monographs of the Danish Institute at Athens 21. Athens and Aarhus, 143–157.

Abstract (by Olga Krzyszkowska, from the introduction): Excavations carried out in the Petras cemetery between 2010 and 2014 have added a further 20 seals to those recovered in the 2005 and 2006 campaigns, already presented at the €first Petras symposium. In date the new seals range from EM II/III to LM III, with many attributable in stylistic terms to MM II. The earliest examples are two foot amulets — one engraved, one unfi€nished — recovered from a deposit underlying House Tomb 3. Other pre-palatial seals include a cube and a zoomorphic seal of bone, and three stamp cylinders of hippopotamus ivory. Regrettably all are in poor condition, though in broad terms they can be associated with central Cretan output of EM III–MM IA date. However, two of the cylinders found in House Tomb 5 seemingly bear hunting scenes, virtually unparalleled in the extant repertoire, and stylistically unique. Among the seals of MM II date, pride of place goes to a €fine silver ring with round bezel bearing a star motif, comparable to seal impressions from Vano 25 at Phaistos. Ornamental designs also occur on two cushions; one made of an attractive variegated jasper, the other of a strange hard stone with glassy inclusions. A petschaft  depicting a €fine lion regardant from House Tomb 10 Room 1 is apparently made from spondylus shell. The new seals of MM II date from Petras also include six three-sided prisms. One made of a pale carnelian or chalcedony bears hieroglyphic inscriptions on two faces. It was found in House Tomb 10, Room 1, as were two prisms made of a rare soft stone, reddish in colour, sometimes dubbed ‘pseudo-jasper’. Unusual stylistically, they are clearly from the same workshop, if not the same hand; one bears a short hieroglyphic inscription. More conventional is a prism of steatite from House Tomb 8, which clearly belongs to the large Malia–East Cretan Group. Two further prisms are related to this group in terms of motif, but differ in material; one made of a so€ whitish ‘paste’, the other conceivably bone. Two zoomorphic seals, both datable to MM II, are made of steatite and calcite. A rectangular seal of serpentine with centred circles on all six faces can be dated to LM III, and clearly belongs to a later use of the area. Although the new seals from Petras cannot match the masterpieces found in the 2005 and 2006 seasons they nevertheless augment signicantly the east Cretan glyptic repertoire. In motif, style and material all offer intriguing new insights into Prepalatial and Protopalatial seal engraving. However, while there is every possibility that some of these seals were made locally, in the absence of workshop material, the role of Petras as a production centre must still remain undefined.

For the book, see here.

Civitillo, Matilde. 2016. La scrittura geroglifica minoica sui sigilli. Il messaggio della glittica protopalaziale. Biblioteca di Pasiphae 12. Pisa/ Roma: Fabrizio Serra Editore.

About (translated from the preface): The book of Matilde Civitillo deals with the complex question of the hieroglyphic inscriptions on seals and seals impressions. This is a topic that has been dealt with many times in the past . Some authors have suggested that the engraved characters on this type of support had an ornamental character. Civitillo demonstrates in an exemplary, rigorous and thorough study that the engraved inscriptions on seals are real texts destined to be read and understood. She comes to a conclusion of fundamental importance that allows the Aegean scripts research to make a decicive step by highlighting the similarities that existed between the Aegean culture and the contemporary cultures of Middle and Near East or the Nile valley, in which the script signs that were engraved on the seals were real inscriptions destined to transmit an unambiguous message in time and space. 

See also here.

Anderson, Emily S. K. 2016. Seals, Craft and Community in Bronze Age Crete. New York: Cambridge University Press.

About: Generations of scholars have grappled with the origins of 'palace' society on Minoan Crete, seeking to explain when and how life on the island altered monumentally. Emily Anderson turns light on the moment just before the palaces, recognizing it as a remarkably vibrant phase of socio-cultural innovation. Exploring the role of craftspersons, travelers and powerful objects, she argues that social change resulted from creative work that forged connections at new scales and in novel ways. This study focuses on an extraordinary corpus of sealstones which have been excavated across Crete. Fashioned of imported ivory and engraved with images of dashing lions, these distinctive objects linked the identities of their distant owners. Anderson argues that it was the repeated but pioneering actions of such diverse figures, people and objects alike, that dramatically changed the shape of social life in the Aegean at the turn of the second millennium BCE.

See also here.

Panagiotopoulos, Diamantis. 2014. Mykenische Siegelpraxis. Funktion, Kontext und administrative Verwendung mykenischer Tonplomben auf dem griechischen Festland und Kreta. Athenaia 5. München: Hirmer Verlag GmbH.

About: This study provides a detailed overview of Mycenaean seal practices and focuses on questions relating to the sealed objects, the types of impressed nodules, the administrative backround and the identity of the individuals who used seals in Mycenaean times. In this way it offers a comprehensive image of the parameters and practical modalities of the act of sealing in Mycenaean times.

See also here.

Anastasiadou, Maria. 2016. Drawing the line: Seals, script and regionalism in Protopalatial Crete. AJA 120.2, 159–193.

Summary: A boundary between eastern and central Crete has been proposed for the Protopalatial period on the basis of the distribution of various types of material culture, most notably pottery. The distribution of Protopalatial seal groups, the production of which can be localized to specific regions on the island, is here added to this discussion. Malia and eastern Crete show a preference for prismatic seals with hieroglyphs and pictographic images, whereas central Crete produces mainly seals of other shapes with round seal faces and ornamental motifs. Evidence from seals is discussed in conjunction with evidence for the earliest attestations of script in Crete.  From this perspective, a hypothesis is here suggested that, in contrast  to what  was previously thought, in Middle Minoan I/II Cretan Hieroglyphic was “at home” in Malia and the eastern part of the island, while Linear A was native in southern and possibly north-central Crete. In this context, the Hieroglyphic  Deposit of  Knossos is seen as intrusive in north-central Crete. This article explains the presence of Hieroglyphic documents at Knossos on the basis of theories that view the Minoan palaces as ritual centers potentially open to corporate groups from various regions on the island.

For online access, click here.

Athanasaki, Katerina. 2014. Γωνιές Μαλεβιζίου: Το πολιτισμικό τοπίο και οι διαδρομές του οφίτη στην εποχή του Χαλκού. CretChron 34, 219–229.

For online access, click here.

Dionisio, Giulia – Anna Margherita Jasink – Judith Weingarten. 2014. Minoan Cushion Seals. Innovation in Form, Style and Use in Bronze Age Glyptic. StArch 196. Rome: Lerma.

About: This book is about a single Minoan seal shape, the cushion seal - a rectangular stone with biconvex faces - so called because its profile resembles a cushion. This shape is specific to Minoan culture. The first securely-dated cushions appear in Middle Minoan IIB but its floruit is Middle Minoan III-Late Minoan IA, after which it essentially dies out. While in its early days, the materials, style, and motifs were similar to those of other seal shapes, it later developed a recognizable, perhaps semi-independent style and iconography of its own. Some of the finest examples of Minoan glyptic art appear on cushions. Who crafted them? Did they have any special meaning? Why did the shape disppear so abruptly? This book is the first to examine all aspects of cushion seals and to compare them with other contemporary forms of glyptic art. It aims to cast new light on style and form at the transition from the Protopalatial to early Neopalatial period on Crete.

For more information on the publication, click here

Krzyszkowska, Olga. 2012. Seals from the Petras cemetery: a preliminary overview. In: Metaxia Tsipopoulou (ed.),  Petras, Siteia 25 Years of Excavations and Studies. Monographs of the Danish Institute at Athens 16. Athens, 145–160.

Summary: Excavations since 2005 have revealed important unplundered tombs in the vicinity of Petras, Siteia. These include a Prepalatial rock shelter and several house tombs. Among the most significant finds are the seals, datable to the Prepalatial and Protopalatial periods. The earliest include several cylinders made from hippopotamus ivory. Hitherto, few seals certainly of this date and material have been discovered further east than Mochlos, and none from secure contexts. Also found were seals of bone and steatite, which are datable to MM I and MM II in Central Cretan terms. Pride of place at Petras are the MM II seals made of hard semi-precious stones – agate, carnelian, blue chalcedony and jasper – some of which bear inscriptions in Cretan hieroglyphic. Shapes represented are Petschafte (loop signets), a rectangular bar, three-sided and four-sided prisms. The association of prisms – whether made of steatite or hard stone – with eastern Crete has long been recognized. However, hitherto virtually all extant hard stone prisms have been stray finds, and none has been discovered in a context likely to be more or less contemporary with manufacture date. The new seals from Petras are of exceptionally high quality – matching if not exceeding the very finest hitherto known. Thus they help to reinforce earlier observations regarding the role of Petras as an emerging regional centre in the Protopalatial period.

For online access, click here.

Crowley, Janice L. 2013. The Iconography of Aegean Seals. Aegaeum 34. Leuven: Peeters Publishers.

About: The Iconography of Aegean Seals is a detailed analysis of the iconography of the images on the Aegean seals, signets and sealings, providing for the first time a comprehensive structured overview of these images and a presentation of the artistic rules governing the composition of their designs. The Icon Theory of Aegean glyptic art which encompasses all aspects of the complex iconography and the IconAegean standard vocabulary which reflects the visual language of the seal designs together give the reader a framework for discussion and study that has long been called for by researchers. In this book the reader is taken deep into the seal designs and asked to ponder anew the images in these miniature masterpieces that were of such importance to their Aegean owners. The exposition of the work of the icon in creating memorable seal designs is cogently argued through seal examples. The presentation of the terms of the standard vocabulary in an illustrated dictionary format makes the detail of the seal designs accessible as never before. The copiously illustrated closing discussion on design revises some of the old nomenclature, identifies new motifs and elucidates relationships between image groupings. This book takes a fresh view of the glyptic material, one that may surprise, but one that certainly provides new insights into the subtle, sophisticated and polyvalent iconography of the seal designs.

For more information on the publication, click here.

Hallager, Erik  – Eleni Papadopoulou – Iris Tzachili. 2011. VRY S (4/4) 01 - The first hieroglyphic inscription from western Crete. Kadmos 50, 63–74.

For online access, click here.

 

 

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Latest Revision: 2019-08-27
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